IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 54

the convenience of individual consumers and hourly community load characteristics, which will be done through
interactions among these three control levels.

To build a community microgrid, several steps need to be
performed. The following is a high-level plan including the
major steps for deploying a community microgrid.

planned to be built in a densely populated area where
there is not enough space available to build combined
heat and power plants or wind turbines, the planner must
seek other alternatives with smaller footprints such as
fuel cells and rooftop solar photovoltaics (Figure 5). The
change in the DER generation mix could significantly
impact the microgrid deployment capital cost and alter
the rate of return on investment.

Site Selection

Integration of the Building Management System

Site selection is perhaps the most important step in building
a community microgrid. Although any neighborhood could
be considered for a microgrid deployment, some offer additional benefits or appear as more critical than others. The
important factors in site selection are electrical location,
load criticality, existing generation resources or availability
of primary (renewable) resources, available footprint, condition of T&D assets and available system capacity, and
availability of communications, control, and automation
systems. The electrical location of a microgrid within a
power system would determine the impact of the microgrid
on the utility grid by supplying additional generation to the
network and enabling a reliable supply of loads in connected
neighborhoods. Moreover, if properly located, a high penetration of community microgrids could potentially impact
T&D network congestion levels, by reducing load at congested hours, and benefit the entire power system by enabling
the flow of power from more economical units. Load criticality is another important factor in the microgrid site selection. Different loads in a neighborhood are associated with
different importance levels, in which load curtailments for
extended amounts of time are not acceptable for some of
the loads. The examples include police stations, gas stations,
hospitals, and nursing homes. Although these loads are typically reinforced by a backup DG to supply loads in case of
utility grid power interruptions, the backup power cannot be
employed for an extended period of time and also would
partially supply the critical loads. The available footprint
determines the DER generation mix, which could be
deployed in the microgrid. If the community microgrid is

Buildings play a major role in community microgrids by
controlling local loads and trading information with the
master controller for a better management of the
microgrid. Buildings, however, must be equipped with
building management systems. Adjustable loads within a
building would respond to price signals and autonomously
operate. The schedule of these loads, however, is coordinated by the building DERs via a building master controller and
based on the signals from the microgrid master controller.
In other words, the building controller provides an intermediate controller between the microgrid controller and the
loads. The interaction among multiple building controllers
is performed via a centralized control by the master controller. Consumers would define their criteria for operating
specific loads by considering the cycle duration and other
characteristics of individual loads.

community Microgrid Deployment Phases

Determination of DER Generation Mix
A major obstacle in a rapid deployment of community
microgrids is the high capital investment cost of DERs.
DERs could provide a low-cost supply of energy, particularly at times of T&D network congestion when real-time
electricity prices are high. The high capital cost, however,
may prevent planners from deploying a microgrid. To
determine the economic viability of microgrid deployment, and accordingly determine the optimal DER generation mix, a long-term microgrid planning study should be
performed. The planning study must capture all value
streams, such as cost, reliability, environmental impacts,
and ancillary service payments, to justify the microgrid
investment cost. Uncertain data must be considered in
this study, including but not limited to forecast errors in
loads, variable renewable generation, and market prices.
Islanding incidents could be further considered as uncertain data with a high impact on deployment decisions.

Distribution Network Upgrade

Figure 5. Rooftop solar photovoltaic panels are viable DG candidates
for community microgrids.

54

I E E E E l e c t r i f i c ati o n M agaz ine / March 2015

Many distribution systems provide a radial supply of loads,
i.e., loads are supplied only from one distribution line. In
microgrids, however, to improve the reliability of the distribution network and prevent undesired supply interruption, the
distribution network is upgraded to create a loop. In this fashion, each load is supplied from more than one direction. If the
supply of power is interrupted from one side, it would be
available from the other side. It would be left to the microgrid
planner's discretion what loads would be provided with a



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